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SWEDISH POP STAR FORSOOK LIMELIGHT TO BE MISSIONARY

You have to look twice at the sign on the door of Elder Louis Herrey's basement apartment to get the real message. It reads: "Trespassers will be proselyted."

Like the sign on his door, there is more to Elder Herrey (pronounced Hehr-RAY) than you might perceive at first.It may take a moment to comprehend that this reserved, unassuming young Swede is one of the most effective missionaries in the Utah Salt Lake City North Mission _ and that seven months ago, he, along with his two brothers, Per Michael and Richard, was an entertainment sensation in Europe with a promising career in the U.S. show business center of Los Angeles, Calif.

The singing brothers have been commanding attention in Europe since 1984. (See Church News, May 27, 1984.)

Three years earlier, their parents, Willey and Gerd, moved their family of seven children to Los Angeles so their sons' musical interests could be nurtured with vocal and dance training and exposure to the American entertainment industry.

The brothers began writing their own music and sending demonstration tapes to various record labels.

"In 1984, we got a call from a record company in Sweden to come back and be in this big song contest," said Elder Herrey, now 21. "Each country holds an individual contest. We won it for Sweden."

The brothers sensed then that they were on their way. Exactly 10 years previously, the Swedish group Abba had won the same contest and eventually achieved international stardom.

Their victory in Sweden gave the Herreys the chance to compete in a contest held in Luxembourg for the entire European continent, and they won first place there also, appearing on television before 2.5 million viewers.

"Then we started to record albums," Elder Herrey recalled. "We did more than 400 live shows, mainly in Scandinavia and in parts of Europe. We performed in a lot of eastern European countries."

Like the famous Osmonds, the Herreys were showcased in the news and entertainment media as members of the Church.

"That was always the first thing, they mentioned," Elder Herrey said. "If we had been members of another church, I doubt they would have said anything about it religionT. But for some peculiar reason, our Church always gets a lot of attention.

"We were able to introduce a lot of people to the Church. They would be interested in it and start asking questions. A lot of baptisms came from our discussions. They were really a big missionary experience for us."

Yet Louis felt a void in his life.

"I felt my life was going downhill," he related. "The things that were supposed to make me happy didn't really do it for me. To become spiritually stronger I realized I needed to go on a mission."

The realization came while the Herreys were on a tour of the Soviet Union last May and June, where they played 40 concerts with an average attendance of 10,000.

When he got home to Goteborg, Sweden, Louis informed his stake president of his decision. After a series of concerts in Scandinavia, the Herreys appeared at a Church fireside at which news reporters were in attendance. There, Louis announced he would be serving a mission. He left for his mission in September.

Ironically, three days after his mission call came, two major American record companies offered the Herreys recording and touring contracts.

"I knew something like that would happen to tempt me, but it wasn't hard to say no," he said.

Elder Herrey was reserved when talking about his success as a pop star, but spoke openly of his feelings about being a missionary.

"I haven't been homesick once," he said. "There have been a lot of baptisms and wonderful people that I have met.

"The main thing about a mission is the knowledge you get, a different perspective on life. I realized there is more to life than just trying to have fun for the moment. There are other beautiful things you should look for. That's what I've found on my mission. When I think about going home, I get a lump in my throat. I'm sure I'm going to cry when that day comes. I could be happy being here for a long time."

Elder Herrey and his companion, Elder Donald Griffes of Lansing, Mich., are zone leaders over 11 missionary companionships. Their zone extends from North Salt Lake to Layton.

"What has been so impressive to me is the way he has thrust himself into the work with a maturity and dedication that's unusual for someone who has been on a mission for such a short time," Mission Pres. Lloyd V Owen reflected.

Pres. Owen said Elder Herrey, as a district leader, was unusually keen in assessing the needs of and helping strengthen the missionaries under his leadership. That resulted in his being called as a zone leader even though he had been serving in the mission only a few months.

Elder Herrey does not think much about his post-mission future. He may perform with his brothers again, but that is not assured as they both are married with children and are pursuing other interests. Per Michael lives with his wife and two children in Salt Lake City and works as a song writer and artist. Richard lives with his wife and new baby in Sweden, where he is promoting a solo album.

And even if they do resume their career as a group, success in the entertainment world is often short-lived, and it is not certain the Herreys again will attain the status they once enjoyed.

But that does not matter to Elder Herrey. "Going on a mission is the greatest thing I've ever done," he affirmed. "I don't regret anything at all. There is nothing to be sad about. The things you gain on your mission outweigh the things you gained before, so it doesn't really matter."